RIYADH — The economic relations between Saudi Arabia and China are becoming much stronger in light of China’s position as the second largest global economy and one of the largest consumer and manufacturing markets in the world.

China occupies prominent position as the first destination for Saudi exports, with a ratio of 15 percent of total exports, according to the international trade report for the first quarter of 2024 issued recently by the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT). The report reflects the volume of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.

The most notable achievement of this bilateral cooperation is represented by the volume of Saudi non-oil exports to China. The value of Saudi non-oil exports to China during the past five years from 2019 to 2023 exceeded SR176 billion. Chemicals, polymers and metals topped in the list of Saudi non-oil exports to China.

Transport and logistics sector represents one of the major components of the services exports sector, and one of the promising sectors contributing to increasing non-oil exports, along with the goods and re-exports sectors. The export of services to China recorded their best performance in 2023, compared to previous years, with an increase of 40 percent over the previous year, with a value of SR182 billion, according to the preliminary data released by GASTAT.

The rise in services export was supported by the recovery of the travel sector, which recorded a surge of 43 percent. The travel sector constitutes 74 percent of the total services, with a value of SR135 billion, followed by the transport sector, whose exports amounted to SR24.2 billion, and then exports of communications services, with a value of SR6.3 billion.

It is noteworthy that the efforts to boost Saudi exports to China are a continuation of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to further strengthen relations with China. The meeting of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman with Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2016 in Riyadh was a landmark initiative in this regard. During the visit several agreements and memorandums of understanding were signed between the two governments. These included a memorandum to enhance joint cooperation regarding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which is a key component of BRI.

The Saudi-Chinese relations were strengthened significantly in 2019, following the visit of Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman to China, during which the summit level meetings reviewed the joint coordination efforts made to enhance cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China, which reflects the depth of relations and strategic partnership between the two friendly countries in various fields.

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